Andalusite: An Indicator Mineral

ANDALUSITE IS THE LOW-TEMPERATURE MINERAL OF THE THREE

Andalusite is the low-temperature mineral of the three

Andalusite resource
Andalusite resource

Andalusite, kyanite, and sillimanite all share the chemical composition of Al2SiO5. However, they have different crystal structures. Their crystal structure differs because they form under extremely different conditions of temperature and pressure. The phase diagram at left summarizes the conditions under which these Minerals form. 

Andalusite is the low-temperature mineral of the three. Sillimanite is the high-temperature mineral, and kyanite forms at high pressures and lower temperatures. Information from a phase diagram can be useful during mineral exploration. If a geologist finds andalusite in the field, the phase diagram reveals the possible range of temperatures and pressures that the rocks were subjected to when the andalusite crystallized. 

If the mineral being sought has a dramatically different temperature and pressure of crystallization, then it might not be present in those rocks. If the pressure range of the target mineral is higher, then it is possible that it exists at depth. If the temperature range of the target mineral is higher, then exploration should move toward a heat source or toward greater depth. That is a simplified example of how the phase diagram can be used.

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